Shifts in World Trade and Capital Flows Presents Significant Growth Opportunities for Islamic Financial Institutions

H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain inaugurates the 20th Anniversary Special Edition of the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2013). His Highness Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain attends the grand opening ceremony of the largest WIBC ever.

Industry Leaders Discuss New Strategies for Re-aligning Business Models, Product Offerings and Supporting Infrastructure to Improve Global Competitiveness of Islamic Finance.

Confirming its position as the world’s largest and most influential annual gathering of international Islamic finance leaders, the 20th Anniversary special edition of the World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2013) witnessed today a high profile opening at the Gulf Convention Centre in the Kingdom of Bahrain. The three day event began yesterday with a pre-conference seminar on Islamic capital and money markets hosted by the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM).

Convened under the patronage of HRH Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain and held with the official support of the Central Bank of Bahrain , the event was attended by 1,316 industry leaders from 53 countries representing over 300 international and regional organizations. A powerful line-up of more than 100 international speakers and industry thought leaders discussed critical issues that the global Islamic finance industry is currently facing and how Islamic finance can adapt to the new dynamics of global finance and improve its competitiveness in the international financial landscape.

The main WIBC conference was officially inaugurated today with an opening keynote address by H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain . This was immediately followed by a special keynote address by H.E. Dr. Mohammad Y. Al-Hashel, Governor of the Central Bank of Kuwait. The opening keynote session provided key regulatory perspectives on improving the stability, competitiveness and long term success of the Islamic finance industry and discussed key initiatives to make the Islamic banking and finance sector more robust and resilient across all stages of the global economic cycle. His Highness Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain, along with the Cabinet ministers attended the grand opening ceremony of WIBC 2013 – which became the largest and the most powerful gathering in the event’s history.

Delivering the inaugural address H.E. Rasheed Mohammed Al Maraj, Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain expressed his gratitude and appreciation to His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain for his patronage of the annual World Islamic Banking Conference and his continuous support to the financial sector in the Kingdom of Bahrain, in particular to the Islamic banking industry.” He also expressed his gratitude to His Highness Shaikh Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain for attending the event on behalf of His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

H.E. Saeed Abdul Jalil Al Fahim, Chairman of the Board, International Investment Bank Bahrain also delivered a special address on ‘business in the Middle East and the role of Islamic finance’.

A key highlight of WIBC 2013 was the high-powered CEO and Industry Leaders’ Power Debate featuring internationally respected CEOs and decision-makers representing the key players in the industry. Led by Ashar Nazim, Partner, Head of Global Islamic Banking Center, EY and featuring Moinuddin Malim, Chief Executive Officer, Mashreq Al Islami; Wasim Saifi, Global Head of Islamic Banking and Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Saadiq Bhd; Toby O’Connor, Chief Executive Officer of the Islamic Bank of Asia; and Steve Troop, Group Chief Executive Officer of Barwa Bank, the power debate session analysed what changes the Islamic finance industry must undergo in order to adapt and meet the evolving needs of the end-user.

WIBC 2013 also featured for the first time an exclusive Canada Country Interface which was inaugurated by H.E. Thomas MacDonald, (non-resident) Ambassador of Canada to Bahrain, Embassy of Canada to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. A special UK Country Interface session was also held along the sidelines of the conference which discussed new initiatives driving Islamic finance in the UK. The session was inaugurated by HMA Iain Lindsay OBE, British Ambassador to Bahrain.

The eagerly awaited 2013/14 special anniversary edition of the World Islamic Banking Competitiveness Report 2013/14 was also launched at a specially convened session at the conference. Developed in collaboration with EY, the Report titled “The Transition Begins” was presented by Ashar Nazim, Partner, Head of Global Islamic Banking Centre, EY. The Report noted that “Islamic banking assets with commercial banks globally are set to cross US$ 1.7 trillion in 2013, suggesting an annual growth of 17.6% over the last four years.” The Report also noted that “the average RoE of the 20 leading Islamic banks was 12.6% compared to 15% for comparable conventional peers and that the future success of Islamic banks will be measured less by growth of assets and more by the quality of growth.” The Report also indicated that “shifts in the world trade and capital flows represent an important business opportunity for Islamic banks that have credible international presence” and also noted that “a major challenge for Islamic banks is to adjust their propositions, operating models, systems, tools and processes to understand and fully capitalize on the international opportunities provided”.

Speaking to the media present at the event, David McLean, Chief Executive of the World Islamic Banking Conference, noted that “today as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the World Islamic Banking Conference, the global Islamic banking and finance industry has undergone a major transformation from what it was 2 decades earlier. Islamic finance activities continue to venture beyond national boundaries and the industry’s international presence is now stronger than ever. The dynamic pace of innovation in the international Islamic finance industry has widened the range of financial products and services available to the global audience thereby significantly increasing its appeal”.

Mr. McLean also said that “five years on after the global financial crisis, the most pressing challenge confronting the world economy continues to be securing financial stability and generating growth and employment. In the aftermath of the financial crisis, the global economy is on its quest for a financial system that promotes sustainable growth. This highlights the tremendous growth potential for Islamic finance given its inherent strengths of association with real economic activities. Having already achieved remarkable growth and development over the past decade, the continued success and viability of Islamic finance will also depend critically on how the industry is able to successfully adapt to the new dynamics of global finance and transform itself to improve its global competitiveness. This requires further transformation and innovation in product offerings, business models, risk management practices and the supporting regulatory and legal infrastructure.”

“Along with the evolution of the global Islamic finance industry, WIBC has also witnessed a significant transformation over the last 2 decades. From just over 120 pioneering delegates and a handful of speakers at the very first WIBC in 1994, the event this year has broken all previous attendance records with 1,316 international industry leaders from 53 countries and over 100 international speakers representing the most powerful line-up of speakers in the event’s history having gathered here in Bahrain for the 20th Anniversary WIBC. We at WIBC strive to ensure that we keep pace with the evolution of the global Islamic finance industry and year after year, put together a stimulating multi-faceted programme that addresses the challenges in the international Islamic financial markets and provides a platform to support growth, excellence and innovation in the global Islamic finance industry”, Mr. McLean concluded.

Commenting on their participation at the event, Adnan Ahmed Yousif, President and Chief Executive of Al Baraka Banking Group said that “Islamic finance is enjoying tremendous progress as one of the fastest growing asset classes in the world. The industry continues to expand in many emerging markets and introduce new standards that should further help develop products and attract investors. The industry’s global appeal continues to grow and attract remarkable attention, including from non-core markets in the UK, Europe, Asia and North America. In order to for Islamic banks to expand their geographic footprint further over the coming years, they must be able to compete more effectively and tackle a number of key challenges facing the industry, including delivering cost efficiencies, building a greater talent pool, enhancing corporate governance; delivering innovative products that meet genuine market needs; and ensuring risk management systems are up to par. For the Islamic finance industry to build a solid foundation for the next phase of international growth, the industry must undergo transformation in a number of key areas”.

Mr. Yousif also said that “the World Islamic Banking Conference, over the last 2 decades, has established itself as a key global forum for in-depth discussions on the facets of the continued global growth in Islamic finance. The 20th Anniversary World Islamic Banking Conference (WIBC 2013) is a key platform for industry leaders to put a spotlight on the challenges, innovations, latest developments and technological solutions essential for the further growth of the global Islamic banking and finance sector.”

The World Islamic Banking Exhibition which was held along the sidelines of the conference was also inaugurated today and showcased the latest products, services and innovations from over 65 exhibitors.

WIBC 2013 continues on the 5th of December and will feature an exclusive interactive dialogue with H.E. Sheikh Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Chairman and Founder of Dallah Al Baraka Group; one of the genuine pioneers of the industry and widely acclaimed as the father of contemporary Islamic finance, who will share his perspectives of Islamic finance past, present and future during an onstage conversation with acclaimed media personality Turki Al Dakhil of Al Arabiya News Channel.

Day 2 of WIBC 2013 will also feature a special guest address on the future of banking regulation and its implications for Islamic financial institutions by Sir Howard Davies, Former Chairman, Financial Services Authority; Former Deputy Governor, Bank of England and Professor, Sciences Po, Paris.

*This press release was published by Zawya.com on 4 December 2013. Read the original post here.

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